To avoid freezing pipes in the winter, make sure to insulate any exposed pipes in you basement before winter comes. Pay extra attention to pipes near the outside walls. If you have had a problem with any particular pipe freezing in the past, apply some heat tape to insulate those pipes.
You need to winter-proof your house. You have to make sure you switch of the master circuit breaker or the shut-off valve before you leave your house. Since one small hole or congested water can quickly freeze and cause pipes to break and expand, you need to drain and open all outdoor and household water lines.
Avoid allowing outdoor faucets to freeze in the winter by being proactive with your approach. By simply removing hoses, turning off the water to your outdoor fixtures, and draining out any remaining water in the system you can avoid frozen pipes full of ice that can lead to extensive damage and expensive repair bills.
To winterize a house that will sit unused during the winter months, you must completely drain all of the pipes. After turning off the main water supply, let all of the water drain from the faucets, toilets, and water heater (turn off the gas). Add a quart of antifreeze to sinks and the tub to prevent water from freezing in the drain trap.
So, now do you see why plumbing is such an exciting endeavor? Creating your own skills, learning to take care of your system, and being able to fix it yourself to save money is very exciting. The tips above should have created a good foundation for you to build upon and do your own plumbing jobs easily.